For the first time since 1997, the Western Water Polo Association title is leaving Southern California. With a dominating performance, No. 13 Air Force defeated defending champion No. 11 UCSD on Sunday to claim the WWPA Championship crown.
Goalie Mike Fish provided a solid performance in goal for the Falcons, making 14 saves. Seven different players scored, including a pair of goals from Brad Rajchel and Andrew Hamilton. Brian Donohoe had three goals for UCSD.
Air Force earns the WWPA automatic bid to the 2012 National Collegiate Men’s Water Polo Championships Dec. 1-2 at USC. The Falcons are 19-10 on the season and UCSD finishes the season at 16-8.
The teams traded goals through the first 16 minutes as Donohoe tied the game at four with just four second to play in the opening half.
Air Force opened the half on a Hamilton goal to take a 5-4 lead and then Rajchel made it a two-goal game with 5:47 to play. UC San Diego cut the lead on a goal from Matt Michalko with 2:48 to play.
It would stay that way into the fourth quarter until Air Force pushed its lead back to two on a goal from Dillon Fisher with 6:51 to play. UCSD’s Josh Stiling answered to make it 7-6.
Air Force cinched its first WWPA title since 1994 with back-to-back goals from Peter Jackovich and Hamilton to take a 9-6 lead with 3:10 to play.
The Falcons fought off two UCSD timeouts and a 6-on-5 before John Butler scored with just 15 seconds left for the final margin.